BC Hydro Crews were kept busy with more than 61,000 calls in 2020. While the vast majority of those calls were run-of-the-mill, the occasional outage left a lasting impression on crews tasked with keeping the lights on.
Vernon appeared to have the busiest year of bizarre outages, making BC Hydro’s top 10 list of memorable outages in 2020 four times. But everywhere from Prince George to East Vancouver had some moments that were the buzz around BC Hydro water coolers.
1. More weight than a cherry tree can bear
Topping the list is a hungry bear that scurried up a cherry tree outside of Nakusp. Unfortunately, the bear must have eaten a few too many cherries prior as the branches couldn’t bear the weight, and fell onto BC Hydro equipment. Ouch.
2. Lights out on Grandma’s birthday
In Vernon, a grandmother’s birthday celebration took a dark turn when her helium balloons came loose and glided into some overhead wires, causing an outage that affected 120 homes. The party ended there, but at least grandma had a memorable story to mark the occasion.
3. Dam construction
Construction mishaps are often the cause of power outages, but more notable was the dam construction by some busy beavers in Dawson Creek and Prince George that felled some branches over BC Hydro lines, causing outages affecting more than 700 customers.
4. Birds show no regard for construction protocols
While building their nests, Ospreys in Vernon and Kelowna decided to drop their unneeded nest supplies onto BC Hydro power lines. Perhaps an attempted game of power line pick-up sticks?
5. A different kind of power line buzz
Wasps settled into BC Hydro equipment in Surrey, North Vancouver and Chemainus, and even nested inside a streetlight in Windermere. Crews may have been briefly confused by the buzzing coming from shut-down lines…
6. A dangerous snack
Some very brave squirrels managed to chew through wires in Nanaimo and Langley, leading to outages for more than 8,000 customers.
7. A shocking theft
Crews in Chilliwack responded to an outage only to find the electricity meter was missing. They later retrieved it from a burglar found walking down the street with the meter in hand.
8. Runaway kites
In both Hope and Vernon, a kite broke free from its owner’s grasp, turning the lights out for 2,000 customers. Luckily the kite owners let go of the line to avoid getting zapped!
9. When going green goes black
An avid composter in East Vancouver may want to rethink their composting habits, after a plant tossed out of a window hit electrical equipment, causing a power outage.
10. Leaf those lines alone
In Vernon, a homeowner was lucky to avoid injury after coming into contact with a power line while cleaning the gutters, blacking out power in the area.
While having fun shedding light on some of the more notable incidents over the past year, BC Hydro advised residents to be mindful of power lines in their area — and avoid flying balloons, kites or drones near them. Always securely fasten balloons, lest they be carried away by a gust of wind and leave you and your neighbours in the dark.
“Every year people are seriously injured or killed by electricity. Stay back at least three metres from any power lines – the length of a standard four-door car,” said BC Hydro media relations.